The best haircut I ever received was from a bald man. I don’t usually get anything fancy — just a trim here, a buzz there. Throughout my life I went through all the same generational hair trends of men currently in their mid-30’s. As a pre-schooler in the early-90’s my Mom spiked my hair straight up a la Bart Simpson because who was cooler than the Bart man? Then in the mid-90’s, I transitioned to the Jonathan Taylor Thomas Home Improvement middle part because all the girls thought he was so cute. In the early 2000’s  I jumped on board the ‘Caesar’ bandwagon popularized by George Clooney in his ER/From Dusk Till Dawn days and that’s pretty much where I’ve remained. Low maintenance, good enough, it was “The Rachel” for men! Back to the point of this story — the bald man. Who better to appreciate hair than a bald man? I got out of his chair looking like a million bucks and the bald man was proud of his work. 

What does this have to do with fantasy baseball, you ask? In my 14-team home league, I’m punting saves. Correction — I’m punting saves + holds. 

“Blasphemer!” you cry out. “The sinner can’t preach that which he doesn’t practice thineself!” 

“No, no, wait!” says I. “Forsooth! Who better to appreciate the role of closer than the man who has none?! Who better to love hair than the man who has none to call his own?!” 

In a saves + holds league there are so many quality reliever arms to choose from and I chose to go with none — instead stacking up on starting pitchers (11 to be exact) and I will eventually trim the fat once I find out which ones are busts, and which ones are musts. I’ll probably settle on 8 starting pitchers and grab the best 3 available saves + holds relievers. 

If you’ve been following this column throughout spring training you know how I rank these closers. I give them a score 1-10 (10 being the best) in three categories:

  • Job Security: is the 9th inning 100% their domain? Is there another pitcher lurking to take his spot? Is it a committee situation? 
  • Performance: Are they any good?
  • Save Opportunities: Will their offense, starting pitcher and middle relievers provide them leads? Are they the chair of their committee? Or just the secretary/treasurer? 

These are all my subjective opinion and I’m sure you have different opinions on every single one of them. That’s what the comment section is for!

S-Tier 

Rank Player Team Job Security Performance Save Opps Total
1 Liam Hendriks CWS 10 10 9 29
2 Josh Hader MIL 10 10 9 29
3 Aroldis Chapman NYY 10 10 9 29

 

Yes, Hendriks has a double-digit ERA, but just pretend those 2 ERs happened in mid-August and you wouldn’t be so nervous about him, right? 3 batters faced, 3 strikeouts for Hader. His FIP is -2.62. NEGATIVE 2.62. The other team is giving HIM runs. 

 

A-Tier

Rank Player Team Job Security Performance Save Opps Total
4 Kenley Jansen LAD 9 7 10 26
5 Edwin Diaz NYM 9 9 8 26
6 Ryan Pressly HOU 8 9 7 24
7 Raisel Iglesias LAA 10 9 5 24

 

Iglesias is the only one worth covering from this tier as he started the season with a clean save on Opening Day, but followed it up with two rocky appearances allowing a HR to Tim Anderson and a single to Jose Abreu who later came around to score. He was credited with the win in his third appearance, but still allowed an unearned run to score after some expert small ball by the White Sox. He’s still one of the few for-sure closers left in the league, but Mike Mayers is lurking if Iglesias falters. Mayers last year had a 35.5 K% and was in at least the 90th percentile for xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and xOBP. Someone to add to your watch list. 

 

B-Tier

Rank Player Team Job Security Performance Save Opps Total
8 Will Smith ATL 5 5 8 18
9 Diego Castillo TB 4 8 6 18

 

Both of these guys are in committee situations, but both committees have lost one of their members with Nick Anderson and Chris Martin. Anderson tore his UCL and is hoping prayers and vitamins will heal it by the mid-summer classic and Martin sat on his hand for too long and the numbness hasn’t gone away. When asked why he wanted his hand to be numb, Martin mumbled something under his breath, turned red in the face, and walked away with his head down. If they don’t recover quickly and completely from their injuries (I don’t think they will) then here are two closer situations that got a bit more secure. 

 

C-Tier

Rank Player Team Job Security Performance Save Opps Total
10 Brad Hand/Tanner Rainey WAS 4 8 4 16
11 Alex Colome/Taylor Rogers MIN 3 7 6 16
12 James Karinchak/Emmanuel Clase CLE 4 8 4 16
13 Mark Melancon SD 3 4 7 14
14 Craig Kimbrel CHC 6 4 4 14

 

The Hand/Rainey pairing would be ranked higher, but Hand might be out a bit longer than expected after a contagious case of “mindyourbusinessitis” has struck a bunch of the Washington Nationals. I dropped their job security & save opps ranking because I want to see if Hand got a case of the ‘VID bad and struggles like Yoan Moncada. Colome got the first save AND blown save for the Twins. I think he gets maybe 60% of the saves for the Twins, but Rogers and Duffey will be right there. The Cleveland baseball team is really great at developing young pitchers’ arms, but awful at developing their minds. I think there will be a 65/35 split with Karinchak over Clase. Was there any doubt that Melancon would be the main guy in the 9th? All this hemming and hawing and hee-hawing about Emilio Pagan, Drew Pomeranz, and Keona Kela only for good ol’ reliable Melancon to take the job. The closer role is like an entry-level job posting that says “5 years of experience required” — it just doesn’t make sense. Was Kimbrel just testing which of his fans were still under his Kimbrella, ella, ella ay, ay this spring training? 9 ERs in 6.2 IP in camp, 2 perfect clean innings with 5 K’s so far. 

 

D-Tier

Rank Player Team Job Security Performance Save Opps Total
17 Jake McGee SFG 5 6 2 13
18 Alex Reyes STL 1 4 6 11
19 Amir Garrett CIN 3 5 3 11
20 Rafael Montero SEA 4 4 3 11
21 Jake Diekman OAK 3 3 4 10
22 Julian Merryweather/Jordan Romano TOR 2 4 4 10
23 Matt Barnes BOS 4 4 2 10
24 Greg Holland & Friends KCR 3 5 2 10
25 Stefan Crichton & Friends ARI 2 3 4 9
26 Richard Rodriguez PIT 3 5 1 9

 

Look how many guys are in the D-tier! That should tell you something about the closer position this year. The closer position is dead. Long live the closer. I tweeted recently that I thought the Giants might surprise some people this year and battle for a Wild Card spot — and McGee could be a huge part of that. He has 3 IPs under his belt already allowing only 1 baserunner. If the Giants are as good as I say they are — he could creep his way up into B-Tier. In my elementary school that’s good enough to win a B.U.G. award: Bringing Up Grades! Alex Reyes has been named the closer in St. Louie! I still say that Jordan Hicks will eventually take over the job by mid-May even though he somehow inexplicably doesn’t strike out that many batters despite throwing one of those Backyard Baseball fireballs. Trevor Rosenthal is injured again – this time with a shoulder injury. It’s Diekman‘s world now. Ah yes, Julian Merryweather. Just as we all predicted when Kirby Yates went down! Two save opportunities, two perfect innings, 5 strikeouts. Reports are that Merryweather won’t throw on back-to-back days, so I’m still going to keep Romano on the list. My money is still on Romano having the majority of saves by playoff time. Joakim Soria was supposed to be the guy in Arizona, but he’s headed to the IL with a calf strain. Calf strains are notoriously finicky and often linger for a while. There’s an opportunity for one of the guys in the Diamondbacks to take this job and run with it. I’m planting my flag right in Stefan Crichton’s backside. 

 

F-Tier

Rank Player Team Job Security Performance Save Opps Total
27 Anthony Bass MIA 2 3 3 8
28 Ian Kennedy TEX 2 3 3 8
29 Cesar Valdez/Tanner Scott BAL 1 3 1 5
30 Bryan Garcia & Friends DET 1 3 1 5

 

Bass won the closer job out of spring training, then the bell rang and he got lit up allowing 4 ERs in his first appearance of the year. Like with Hendriks above, if this happened in the middle of the season we wouldn’t be overreacting this much, but unlike Hendriks Bass didn’t have the firmest grasp on this job as it was. Much like Melancon with the Padres, I expect the Rangers to go with the old, boring guy with experience to replace Jose Leclerc whose goose is cooked for the year. Kennedy did show promise in 2019 notching 30 saves for the Royals. I shouted from the rooftops that everyone should grab Tanner Scott even before Hunter Harvey got injured and instead the Orioles choose — Cesar Valdez?! The coffee guy?! Another case of the old, boring veteran guy getting the role while the sexy young fireballer sits on the sidelines. The beautiful always have it rough. I still expect Scott to end the season with the most saves in Baltimore.

 
  1. curt corcoran says:
    (link)

    Neris??

  2. curt c says:
    (link)

    Where does Neris fit?

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
      (link)

      Edit coming soon — I missed them when I went to copy/paste from my spreadsheet.
      15 Jake McGee SFG 5 6 2 13
      16 Hector Neris PHI 3 4 5 12
      17 Daniel Bard COL 6 4 2 12

  3. toolshed says:
    (link)

    Is soto or garcia the closer for Detroit?

    • Kerry Klug

      Kerry Klug says:
      (link)

      Both and neither at the same time! Soto SHOULD be the closer — but I think Garcia is the #1 option for now. Might be close to 50/50 by May 1.

  4. Snarky Anklebiter says:
    (link)

    Interesting you have Rainey over Hudson in DC. Yesterday’s usage says otherwise.

  5. Jimmy says:
    (link)

    Ciscerno have a shot at saves?

  6. Harper Better Than Trout says:
    (link)

    Wittgren closed today. Is he the new closer?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *